Demystifying the Steps of Working with an Interior Designer
Updated: Jan 21
Are you new to the world of working with an interior designer? Or are you intimidated by the process because it seems a little fuzzy? I'm writing this article to breakdown the steps of working with a designer when it comes to furnishing your home so that you have some sort of baseline on what all it actually entails. Renovations are slightly more nuanced but generally follow the same flow over a more extended period with more subcontractor parties involved.
It all begins with you answering around 10 questions that help me understand the scope, your budget, functionality of the space, timeline and general style preferences. This is my first peak behind the curtain to make sure the design needs can realistically be met. This step is important because a design is only as good as how well it functions for your needs. If you have three kiddos under the age of 10 then a light colored couch most likely won't work. I like to get these details on the front end so that all the options going forward are modified for your specific needs.
Once we have addressed the initial scope of the project details, it is important for me to see the space during a walk through. During this time I am able to gather measurements, see the flow of the space, and note existing details like trim color or pieces of furniture you're already incorporating in the space. I also like to continue the conversation from the questionnaire to gather even more insight into how you want the room to feel or to see Pinterest inspiration you've collected.
In the world of interior design, it is most common for designers to charge by the hour for their design work. The hourly rate can vary pretty widely depending on the city or the size of the design firm. In addition to the hourly rate, I also give a ballpark on the estimated design hours for the scope of the project before working together. This helps with expectations on both ends and the transparency shows that a good working relationship between designer and client will save both time and money. Next, I send a contract that includes all these details and clarifies aspects like the payment schedule. Once the contract is signed, we hit the ground running!
One of the main reasons people hire a designer is that trying to pull a room together can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis on where to begin. The part that becomes stressful is trying to factor all the varying elements in a hundred of little decisions. Decision fatigue is real. If this is you, then the design board process is where the real fun begins.
At this point, I will create design board options that implement your style in a couple different directions for the space. These are meant to show you variety and allow you to articulate what you like or want to adjust. The beauty of working with a designer is that not only will you see iterations of your space in different styles but each option has already considered scale, measurements, balance and budget. It is so rewarding to see a client's excitement when they see the potential of their home come together.
After we have landed on a design board and revisions have been made from input, the design elements can be purchased. In a full service design project, I will handle purchases, tracking, and delivery. If something comes in damaged or is delayed, I work with the manufacturer to ensure a seamless process. Depending on the brand that the design element is sourced from, designers also may receive a discount that can be passed along to the client. This is a huge perk of working with a designer as you actually save some money on some of your purchases!
Once everything has arrived, we set up a date for the installation. This is one of my favorite parts of the process as the space comes to life. Even when the room has been thought through with design boards and revisions, there are always last minute tweaks or flow adjustments when everything is in the room. This is when design truly feels like an art more than a science.
As the client, you get to walk into the space once it is all done and enjoy your curated design. Some people enjoy watching the process unfold but we always take on all the heavy lifting.
Every designer's method is slightly different but this general flow should help to demystify the whole process plus breakdown the cost. In my opinion, the true value of working with a designer is not only their eye for design but the expertise of project flow, best practices for implementation, where trends are headed, and passing along any applicable discounts!
If you're curious to get more details, fill out my contact form so we can start a conversation! Hope Miriam Designs offers e-design, full service design or can help with a renovation gut. All vary in design hours, cost and involvement. Let's talk!